“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Friday, March 6, 2009


One of the greatest responsibilities in being a police officer is the fact that we hold the legal power to take a life to protect others. Mind you, self defense and the defense of others is an inalienable right as well noted by the founders of this nation - but law enforcement officers are placed in the position of having to proactively do so at times. This is one of the reasons society, the courts and the legislatures hold us to a higher standard in terms of training and understanding of what this entails - to do the best we can to ensure those entrusted with that responsibility make the right choices.

Along with this, as I've told a number of recruits and new officers over the years, you will have far more times in your career where you COULD have ended up using deadly force than you actually will use it - and each and every time is different and (at least for me) thought-provoking.

I was reminded a bit about this recently on a call. This is one of those that the details will stay vague on, but the point of the post is the same either way.

We had a bomb-squad callout for items which had passed the point of "suspicious" and jumped straight into "alarming and serious." As we are working on our plan to deal with said things, we also attempted to gather what information we could on who the owner was, location and all of that stuff. Which led to their showing up on the scene with a potentially valid explanation, but still very much a concern as to what may or may not be. So we make the decision that the individual can best work with us by bringing the items out under our view where we can better examine them.

Given again our still-valid concern of a threat, we want to keep him under a lethal force cover throughout all of this - anyone who doesn't think that a suicide bomber isn't going to hit the U.S. sooner or later is naieve in my book. Since I've got the background and the rifle on scene, that falls on me - to find the position to have some sort of cover but still be able to take the shot if needed. Part of this too involved making sure the person was absolutely aware of this - that should they take any action we would interpret as hostile, they were getting shot to protect everyone else.

Like I said, I've had a number of times as a cop when I came close to using deadly force - fortunately I haven't had to so far on any of them, but it's been close. This was one of the very few times though that wasn't a rapidly-evolving, making decisions in an instant situation. This was me very calmly, very patiently having to focus on another human being through the sights of my rifle, having to watch every movement and consider it in my mind, as well as keeping an ear on what the others saw. With this person knowing that I was doing so the whole time - seeing the glance up now and then towards me in full awareness of what could happen I'm sure. And realizing (more so in retrospect than at the time - I was focused on the job then) how very very close at any point it could have switched from the ending we had to a different one, where my finger moved to the trigger and squeezed those few pounds of pressure. Fortunately, that didn't happen - everything worked out, and everyone went home safe at the end of the day.

But it can be very soboring to think about having that much responsibility entrusted in you by society, and by your comrades in arms and the people you wait to go home to.

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